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Technology A-level student numbers fall again

Rebecca Thomson

The number of students taking IT-related A-level subjects fell again this year.

ICT student numbers fell 2.7% from 12,277 to 11,948, while the number of computing students fell 7% from 5,068 to 4,710.

The gender divide in technology was also demonstrated by the figures. There were 7,339 on the ICT course, compared with 4,609 girls, and 4,256 boys took A-level computing, compared with just 454 girls.

Those girls who did take ICT tended to perform very well, with 37.5% of female candidates achieving grade A or B, compared with 26.8% of male candidates.

The overall number of students achieving A grades fell slightly from 16.1% to 15.7% in computing, but rose from 9.7% to 10.2% in ICT.

The continual fall in the number of students taking IT-related subjects has been causing headaches for the technology industry for years. The curriculum for both GCSEs and A-levels has come under fire for putting students off.

Stephen Kelly, CEO of Micro Focus, said, "Fewer A grades are achieved in critical core subjects like maths and science than is needed. The balance towards subjects such as social and media studies has shifted too far.

"This is a ticking time bomb for UK plc. Many students will leave school this summer without jobs. The UK market needs students with science qualifications."

It was not all bad news for science subjects though. The Department for Children, Schools and Families said the number of pupils taking maths and further maths A-levels was the highest for "over a decade". English remains the most popular choice for students.


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